In the second of my three part series about my visit to Edwin B. Forsythe NWR in New Jersey I focus primarily on egrets with a dose of Black Skimmers. Egrets were plentiful along the auto drive route providing several photo opportunities.
During late September and early October I made my first birding trip to Cape May. I had carefully selected my dates with an eye to seeing a number of migrating species, including hawks (more on that in a later blog post). What I failed to forecast and plan for included poor wind direction from a birding perspective with winds coming mostly from the Northeast or East during my stay. I was informed by one of the hawk watchers that winds from these directions are not that frequent and normally don't last more than a day or two.
I’ve been fortunate to have the pleasure of photographing many Snowy Owls in Ontario and Quebec. Each encounter is unique in its own way, especially when it comes to photographing these magnificent creatures. Individual personalities vary greatly; some are skittish and do not tolerate approach within two telephone poles or more along a side road while others appear tame and do not seem bothered by humans approaching with care.
One of the fall migration stopovers for many Tundra Swans is the Niagara River IBA. Fall migration begins in September and lasts until mid-December, peaking in October and November (Dunne 2006). On November 30 I saw hundreds of these swans at different locations along the Niagara River between Niagara Falls and Fort Erie. One group chose to hang out close to the Canadian shoreline providing a great opportunity to capture some photos in good light.
The Niagara River, which is known for its breath taking waterfalls, is an international waterway that is also important for its annual gathering of birds. Four species congregate here in significant numbers (i.e., more than 1% of world population): Bonaparte’s Gull, Herring Gull, Canvasback and Common Merganser. Additionally more than 1% of the Canadian national population of Ring-billed Gulls is present here as well.
On November 30 I drove from Niagara Falls, Ontario where I had spent the weekend looking at gulls and other bird species along the Niagara River to Whitby, Ontario where a Mountain Bluebird had been reported the previous day as well as early yesterday morning. I was thrilled to see and photograph the beautiful female Mountain Bluebird, a lifer for me, as it spent much of the day making its way back and forth along a pathway in search of bugs and insects.
For the past week or so a few Cave Swallows have been seen in the Oakville, Ontario area. My first observation of this species occurred on November 14. At the time, sunset was minutes away and lighting conditions were extremely poor. I managed to snap a handful of photos but the quality was poor both in terms of sharpness (or lack thereof) and high noise levels.
Outside of the breeding season, Red Phalarope is wholly pelagic. Inland, even coastal sightings of this species are rare, and most occur during fall migration, which lasts into December (Dunne 2006). On November 21, a single Red Phalarope at Bronte Bluffs Park in Oakville, Ontario was reported originally by Chris Cheatle, so I headed out there to check it out. The Red Phalarope was very tame and stayed very close to shore during the time I spent there, providing excellent looks to all the birders and photographers present.
Earlier this week I went on a walk through parts of The Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga, Ontario. At this time of the year, most leaves have fallen off trees and birds can be spotted more easily. With my bins and camera by my side I set off to see what photo opportunities were about. Many of the birds I came across are locally common; however, I was pleased to get several clean views and photos of birds that I have added to my website photo gallery collection.
This Hermit Thrush enjoyed taking a bath for several minutes along the edge of a small pool in Toronto (October 19). Cloudy skies at the time combined with a relatively fast shutter speed of 1/1250 s increased my ISO setting to 4000 or 5000 for these photos; however, I find the Canon 1D-X is pretty capable of handling the resulting noise, especially when noise reduction is applied as is the case here. Whenever possible I like to capture bird behaviours in my photos. This individual entertained me as it splashed around several times and seemed oblivious to my presence.